Throughout his tragically short life, Schubert produced a wealth of chamber music, but he curiously did not turn to the piano trio until the very end of his life. Though the precise dates of composition will likely remain unknown forever, it is presumed that the two piano trios date from around 1827, just a year before the composer's death. The two works are highly contrasting; the E flat major Trio is much more dramatic and forceful, while the B flat major Trio (heard here) is rather subdued, graceful, and gentle. Performing on this Audiomax album is the Max Brod Trio, which takes its name from a well-respected European diplomat. The execution of the B flat major Trio is generally solid, though the things that set it apart from other recordings of the work may not be desirable. There's a fair amount of tempo fluctuation, particularly in the lengthy first movement, which often finds the group slowing greatly (but unnecessarily) during placid, quiet sections. This has the effect of making the already verbose movement drag on a bit. The few, more forceful sections in the trio are much more engaging and forward-moving. The ensemble's technical skills are nicely polished save for a few intonation blemishes in the violin part; balance between the three is also well-planned and allows listeners to clearly hear all of the parts throughout the recording. The disc ends with an enjoyably moody performance of the little-played D. 897 Notturno.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Piano Trio in B flat major, D 898|